“It’s like I’ve got my own console at home,” says Christopher Parker of his new Nero monitor controller from Audient, which he has set up in his girlfriend Daisy’s living room. With his normal workplace Abbey Road Studios closed due to CoVid-19, Chris took advantage of UK lockdown to put Nero through its paces – whilst helping out with a few of Daisy’s many music projects.
“I know you can create elaborate DAW templates to replicate some of those workflows, but having them at your fingertips is so much nicer.”
As an assistant engineer at the iconic northwest London studios, Chris is used to working with the best quality gear. “I’m very lucky to work in a fabulous studio that has large format analogue consoles in every room, and they are invaluable for the tracking and mixing work we do there,” he says. “To be able to quickly plug up a laptop or a phone up an external and play it out of the speakers or multiple cue circuits for listening/testing, or to have your mix reference coming up an external that you can quickly AB with your main mix output. Nero enables me to have all that. Once you’re used to having those things, being without them just feels so slow! I know you can create elaborate DAW templates to replicate some of those workflows, but having them at your fingertips is so much nicer.”
He describes his current setup: “It is based around a 2018 Macbook Pro running Pro Tools, with an Apogee Quartet handling the I/O, Audient’s Nero taking care of the source and monitor switching, comms and headphone distribution, a Softube Console 1 and the trusty keyboard and mouse. Monitoring are my girlfriend’s KRK Rokit 5s, and my Sennheiser HD650s.
“Having the mono summing and polarity inversion switches at your fingertips is invaluable
“Nero fits in particularly well with the Quartet,” he continues. “The three sets of stereo outs on the Quartet neatly fill the Source 1, 2 and cue inputs, and the Quartet headphone output is connected to the mini jack Aux input.”
He has certainly appreciated the features of his Audient Nero. “Having the mono summing and polarity inversion switches at your fingertips is invaluable for me. As a checking and a learning tool I find it so useful, and I’m surprised more monitor controllers don’t feature them.”
Back when life was normal, Chris would spend long days in the studio. “Sometimes VERY long if there’s a particularly complex setup or a large orchestral setup to change around.” Having worked on projects such as Goliath by Wood Kid – “such a killer track”, Monster Florence who featured Miles Kane on one of their tracks – “everyone involved in that was such a joy to work with; a lot of laughs were had that day”, he’s clearly found his calling. Coming out soon is Joe Bonamassa’s solo album, which Chris worked on with Joe’s producer, Kevin Shirley. “I was particularly proud to be part of that. Kevin asked me if I’d be happy to take on the engineering duties of those sessions which was a huge responsibility and a challenge I was only too happy to undertake.”
“I’m just looking forward to getting back to it!”
It’s no surprise then, that he used his lockdown – up until Abbey Road Studios reopened earlier this month – helping Daisy “who is one heck of a singer” with her collaborative one-off charity video, her own Daisy Chute artist project and her collective promoting female singer/songwriters. All that in between his own remixing and the odd jamming session with his old university mates.
As to whether the CoVid-19 ‘at home’ experience will change the way he works now he’s back at Abbey Road Studios, remains to be seen. “The actual day to day of it, probably not –although on a practical level, operating the studios under social distancing represents a great departure from our pre-CoVid workflow.
“We have been forced now to engage and collaborate remotely with each other for the past two months. Although that’s not exactly new in the film scoring world, maybe people will start to see that as an equally viable method of collaborating and choose to do that rather than travel to sessions.
“Personally, I’m just looking forward to getting back to it!” Working within the new operating guidelines which protect the team and guests at Abbey Road Studios of course.
Audient wishes Chris, Daisy – and all at Abbey Road a healthy and safe return to work.